Volume 1 Book 3 Part 2 of
Living In The Bonus Round
by Steve Schalchlin.

[ Book 2 ] - [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] - [ Book 4 ]
[ Diary Index ]

January 1997. Los Angeles.
I start having some fun and begin writing my autobiography.

Wednesday, January 1, 1997
A Crazy Idea.

This picture was surreptitiously inserted on my fan club website by Gabi and some family turncoat:
Steve at 5.

Last night we were watching the news when they began a report on the human genome project. It's the effort to categorize and name every gene in the human body. I began thinking, "If there's 'gay' gene..." -- and I got this brilliant idea for Science Fiction movie......

It's a few hundred years into the future and the gay gene, long since identified, has led the entire world into aborting or killing their possibly gay kids before they are born. So, now the whole world is heterosexual and everyone is bored. No one has any taste anymore. Ladies and mens fashions are horrendous. Hairstyles are tacky and full of hairspray. There's no theatre anymore because no one remembers how to dance or choreograph.

No art. No light. Only boxing and bowling.

So, a movement is on by some couples to try to stimulate the gay gene and finally have some gay kids to bring life back into this empty planet. But the Religious Right finds out about it and they pass a law requiring all couples to display the gene maps of their babies-to-be. They believe that by stopping gay kids from being born, they can prevent "the spread of sin" in this world.

So now there's this whole underground network of parents and gay children hiding from the Church Police....

Ahhhh... I'm crazy. Nothing like this could ever happen. Who would advocate dead kids to stop the spread of sin? I'm so silly sometimes. I mean, look at that five year old up there at the top of this diary entry. Would this be a better world if someone had stopped him from being born?

We spent New Years alone in the house as usual. So, we "trundled" -- got all warm and cozy -- and rented some videos. We rented "Fargo" because we had heard so much about it. I'm not keen on Coen Bros. movies but this is a masterpiece. (Am I getting soft? All these good movies lately). It's hilarious to hear them talk in Minnesota accents. We also rented "The Celluloid Closet," which looks at gay people as depicted in the movies over the last century. Very, very interesting. Almost made me cry.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Thursday, January 2, 1997
Barbeque and Big Plans.

Finally. FINALLY, the holidays are over. The only thing I've been thinking about is getting stuff done and plans made. At last Ronda and Kim are home -- and the first thing we did yesterday was to drive to Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas Barbeque and have a big ol' messa barbeque, and talk our fool heads off. (We should all do what we do best.)

I'm really split right now because I want to badly to be in New York to help the production team and meet people and sing every once in a while. I feel like I'm in the wrong place. So we talked about that and considered it as a possibility. But, aside from that, the tentative plans now go like this:

  • February: Possible concert in L.A. as fundraiser for L.A. Youth Supportive Services.
  • March: Begin playing some cabaret clubs in New York to lead into...
  • Possible April opening of The Last Session.
  • Harvard University in April with discussion and music.
  • (The L.A. concert idea has not been planned at all yet. I have a few ideas for things I'd like to try, including getting some of my fave songwriters to join me in a writers in the round, but I'll keep you informed as it progresses. Likewise, everything else. )

    Ronda and Kim and Jim were adamant about my not overbooking myself, especially if I go to NY this month. Ronda said, "I know you feel good and want to do everything, but..." I said, "I know. I felt it in New York the last time. I needed a lot of rest after that trip." They weren't saying I shouldn't do things, but that I tend to forget that, while I might be strong these days, there's a physical limit to what I actually *can* do .

    I've learned to listen to the people around me. Not that I actually do anything they tell me to do, of course. But I do listen. Sometimes.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Friday, January 3, 1997
    My First Crix Blunder.

    Today, I got all wrapped up in several conversations that came one after the other and suddenly, about 9pm. I realized I had not taken my 4pm Crixivan. So I was five hours late. They say that one hour -- maybe two hours at the very extreme -- is the longest you can (should) go. The choice was to wait until midnight, my next dose, and stay on schedule (which is recommended in the literature) or take it and try to get back on time.

    I chose to take it. I took that dose at 9:15. Eights hours after that would be 5:15am. I didn't wake that early Saturday morning. It was more like 6:45, so I took my next dose then.

    I'm told I shouldn't panic but just in case you want to know, if one misses doses, the HIV will begin to build an immunity. It literally copies itself by the billions -- BILLIONS -- every single day. What the Crixivan does is defeat this ability to replicate. So, theoretically yesterday, hundreds of millions of new HIV was released into my body. However, I am taking the two other anti-virals, 3TC and d4T, so the virus did not have open season on me.

    In over six months of taking Crixivan, this is the first time I got outside the two hour limit. I rarely even get outside the one hour limit.

    Dancing on the wire.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Saturday, January 4, 1997
    Theatre Etiquette.

    Yesterday, I accompanied Jimmy on a trip to the theatre. A local theatre in Glendale was staging "The Odd Couple" and Jimmy was to review it for the paper. This theatre advertises itself as a "family theatre" and it's a wonderful small space set up "in the round." As we were going in, I thought I recognized the girl at the door, but I wasn't sure.

    The cast was trying hard, but frankly, it was a losing battle. Except for the man playing Oscar, it was a cast of amateurs. So my eyes and ears began to wander. First to some older people behind us who were intent on repeating out loud everything the actors were saying. Then I heard some cellophane crinkling from patrons directly in front of me sitting on the side.

    First one lady took about five minutes to open a candy bar. The noise was deafening but she was caught up in the exuberance of her prize. Each bite was followed by more crinkling as she continuously unsheathed the bar. Just about the time she was done, a lady who looked like her mother pulled out a big plastic bag from her purse and proceeded to unwrap individual candies, one at a time. Then the people between them reached into the bag and the Cellophane Symphony was in full swing.

    I looked back to the stage and noticed the actors nervously blowing, and stepping on each other's, punchlines. Normally, I glare at anyone who deigns to open cellophane at live theatre. It's the most egregious of irritations, but somehow, this time, it was the only entertainment in the room.

    Or I'm just in one weird mood.

    By the way, you remember the girl at the door I thought looked familiar? I realized who it was, finally. It was an actress who, long ago, was on "All My Children." She played the first character with AIDS on any soap. She died.

    Some of you are waiting on CDs. I apologize they are late. Our initial shipment covered most of the mail orders, but the subsequent shipment was held up unexpectedly. They tell me I should be getting it on Monday. Of course, they also said I was supposed to have them last week.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Sunday, January 5, 1997
    Guest Poem.

    Casting Stones

    You railed at him in hatred
    Youleft him in pain
    then proudly to the world proclaimed
    to be the bearer of truth
    and all that's right,
    and you did it all in Jesus name!

    You never saw the man that lives inside
    The one who dwells with all the pain
    and sometimes wishes he could die,
    to hide from men like you
    who never understood the Truth.

    You cast your stones, made him bleed,
    your words of "light cut so deep
    into his soul.

    I see you there on Judgment day
    standing before His throne
    waiting to receive your good rewards
    for faithful service done.

    Then you'll look into the Saviour's eyes
    and see the sorrow there.
    When He asks you how you thought you knew
    who He Himself had called,
    and what were you thinking? when you alone
    used words He meant for healing
    to crucify one of his own.

    © 1996 by Donna Horsfall

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Monday, January 6, 1997
    Giving Blood & Making .wav's.

    I took off fresh and early this morning for Santa Monica to give blood to the lab so they could do new blood tests. Time to check out that viral load and t-cells, and everything else to make sure we are still beating down HIV into submission. I certainly still feel good, so I'm expecting good news (but it still makes me a little nervous because I'm getting spoiled with all this strength, as you can imagine).

    I was a very good boy, too. I wore one of my newer shirts and drank a ton of water. By the time I got there, my veins were popping and the blood flowed freely. We had one little scare, though, when I rolled up my sleeve, my arm looked slightly blue. The lab lady and I both freaked a little until she swapped the vein with alcohol. It was my new shirt. It's denim and the blue dye had rubbed off on my arm!

    I got home only realize my new CD shipment had STILL not come in. (GROAN). I'm so sorry about that, those of you who are still waiting.

    Later I went over to Randy Tobin's and we began sampling some of the songs and making .wav files for this site so you can hear some of them. If you have a PC, you can get 21 seconds of Connected. (Mac users can download a freeware called SoundApp to listen). We'll be hooking them up to the graphic on The Last Session page soon. Lord, these things take a lot of memory for such a tiny bit of music. One piece of music, stereo in 16 bit uses half the memory I'm allotted here on Geocities! So, the bites right now are 8 bit, mono. We'll be working on that, though as we go along. At least now you can hear something!

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Wednesday, January 8, 1997
    Sounds are UP! CDs are IN!

    Go to The Last Session homepage and click on one of the words stuck on the "cassette." That will take you to a selection where you can download a sound file at long last. Tell me if you have problems. I slaved most of last night redesigning these pages all for your enjoyment, as Shawn Decker would say (be sure you don't miss keeping up with his diary--I'm the one who talked him into doing it). It's all to help you get over any negotoid blues you might be going through.

    The links lead to new lyric sheets and the lyric sheets have the sound bites on them. If you're lazy, you can hear them here. Connected, The Group, Friendly Fire, When You Care, Going It Alone, Somebody's Friend, and When You Care (the chorus).

    ALSO, my CDs finally arrived today so we'll be getting them out to you today if not sooner. Be sure to order lots and lots. Time to spread the word. Lazarus ARISE AND WALK!

    Also, Hoover the Pig, my biggest fan (so to speak) is now dreaming about me. If you don't believe it, check it out. I think my little fan club is getting out of hand. These are adult women who created this club. Honestly. I mean, really honestly.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Thursday, January 9, 1997
    Chicken Palmolive.

    There we were, the four of us. Jimmy and me, Ronda the Publisher, and Stan Freeman, the great jazz pianist. It's fun to be out with Stanley because he's the original curmudgeon. I love curmudgeons. Besides being a great pianist, Stan is also one of the greatest "specialty material" writers alive. He has this song about Pia Zadora... but I digress.

    After the recent rains, Los Angeles was beautiful today. Kind of a post-rain sun where the skies are crystal blue and there's a very slight chill in the air. Hot and cold living side by side. We were down on Melrose Ave. to see our friend, David Rambo's, play, "There's No Place Like House" at the Zephyr Theatre. It was a dress rehearsal and we were there to cheer on the cast as they worked out any remaining kinks (what kinks? The production was flawless!). Before the show, though, the four of us were packed into a little booth at Mexican food restaurant near the restaurant.

    Melrose Ave. was gorgeous. The lights were so El Lay and there were people actually walking. (YES! WALKING IN LOS ANGELES!). The waiter came over and announced the special for the night. He had a Latino accent and Stanley asked, "What? Chicken Palmolive?" The waiter repeated the name of the dish and Stan still thought he heard, "Chicken Palmolive," Which caused the rest of us to begin laughing.

    Jimmy said, "Isn't that dish a little sudsy?" At this, we all unceremoniously hooting loudly and laughing while Stanley sat there puzzled. We're so bad to poor Stan. But one never tops Stan Freeman. He's got one of the greatest minds I know. I consider Stanley to be one of the great best kept secrets in show business.

    By the way, the dish was "Chicken TAMALES!" (not Palmolive).

    David's play runs at the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose Ave. and opens next week.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Friday, January 10, 1997
    Guest Letter in Response to the Gay Gene SciFi Idea

    My cyberfriend, Ed, wrote this letter in response to the part of the SciFi idea. It was this part that got to him:
    "But the Religious Right finds out about it and they pass a law requiring all couples to display the gene maps of their babies-to-be. They believe that by stopping gay kids from being born, they can prevent "the spread of sin" in this world."
    Ed wrote:
    They say that truth is stranger than fiction. In Thursday's Wall Street Journal, there was an op-ed piece from four psychiatrists. Two were affiliated with major Universities (Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Univ of Ca.) The other operated "clinics." (The cynical side of me wouldn't be suprised if the two university docs were found to be on the payroll of the clinics as 'consultants'. But then it isn't nice to be cynical. :-( )

    One sentence in the article made me drop my teeth:

    "Young men and parents of at-risk males have a right to know that *prevention* and effective treatments [for homosexuality] are available." (Emphasis and bracketed text mine)


    Are they kidding?

    "Now parents. If little Johnny seems to be spending too much time watching ballet on PBS, call your cable company and have them block everything but Monday Night Football and ESPN (using the v-chip to block the figure skating finals of course.)"

    Get real.

    I hate articles like that. I also love articles like that. Yes, I'm odd.

    I hate them because something in them causes me to pause and think. In the same way in the comics that sometimes we see Charlie Brown lie in bed at night and ask the heavens, "Why me?" or we see Calvin lay in his woods and ask "What if I'm trying to be good and there is no Santa Claus?" these articles with their so-called experts and logical weight they carry strike at something in my soul. If being gay is defective, would I know it? If it is a sin, wouldn't I naturally deny the sin?

    I love them because again something in them causes me to pause and think. In the same way that "a voice answers Charlie Brown back, 'Its nothing personal, your number just came up.'" and Christmas morning, 'Santa' does come for Calvin, I find the answers to these questions in myself. By challenging my faith in myself and my knowledge that I am not defective or a sinner, it strengthens my positive belief in who I am. By confronting these demons I defeat them.

    Of course, I'm not advocating that these people, who I honestly believe are using fear to generate a quick buck off of vulnerable people, should go unchallenged or unaswered. I guess this little piece of op-ed created a crass, albeit with a happy ending, for me and I just wanted to share it with my cyber-family.


    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Saturday & Sunday, January 11 & 12, 1997
    A Night At Pancho's. Meeting Sam and JoAnn.

    Monday, January 13, 1997
    Crying at Shine. Updated Schedule.

    My mother used to tell us of going to see movies during the depression during WW2. She and her little friends would go off to the movie theatre and sit in the theatre all day long watching the same movies, cartoons and newsreels over and over. When she got home, her mother would ask, "Did you like the movie?" and her reply would be, "Oh yes, mamma, we cried all the the way through it!"

    This afternoon, after the movie, Shine, was over, I sat in my seat with tears streaming down my face, completely unable to move. And if I were going to judge this year's movies by which one touched me the deepest, then Shine wins hands down. But even more than that, this was one of the most beautifully constructed, heart-rending and emotionally involving films I've even seen in my entire life. AND it's a true story. Sound like an ad. Hey! Product placement!!! Where's my check????

    We sat on pins and needles all day long waiting on word from our producers in New York to see if they were able to hammer out a deal to allow THE LAST SESSION to open in New York in May. So, our stomachs are in butterflies.

    One last thing: This weekend I'll be in San Francisco to visit Billy Valentine and hear his rock band. Billy is the one who wrote the essay that formed the basis for the song, One New Hell, which is one of the bonus songs on the Living in the Bonus Round CD. I'm leaving on Thursday morning and will be back on Sunday. (Does this mean the diary goes dark for four days????) You'll just have to wait and see...

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Tuesday, January 14, 1997
    Test Results, Rabies, Cures & A Workshop.

    The news just came in on my blood tests. My t-cells are UP again, this time to 220, which is up from 160 (they had been as low as 40) and my viral load remains below detectable limits. (CELEBRATION!!!)

    THIS FROM MY BROTHER back in Dallas about my nephew, his son:
    Jonathan was watching the Disney Channel this morning when he started shoutin', "Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Old Yeller's coming on. Isn't that the show about the dog that has AIDS?" I advised the lad that Old Yeller had rabies, not AIDS. He said "Oh yeah. I always gets AIDS and rabies mixed up."

    The thought has been that if the protease inhibitor keeps our viral loads down long enough, it might wipe the virus from our body. On 60 Minutes the other night, a patient decided to test this by going off all drugs after a year with no detectable virus in his system. In about a week, his viral load shot up into the millions. Clearly, the cure is not yet here, but hope remains.


    "Tickets are on sale now!"

    at the Currican Theatre in Manhattan. It will be an 8 week Limited Engagement. It opens on May 8th and closes on June 30th running Thursdays through Mondays with a total of 35 performances. They will be dark over the Memorial Day weekend which comes early this year.Tickets will be $15.00 each for the first 6 weeks and $25.00 for the last two weeks (It turns over to a LOA contract and the ticket price has to go up). The reservation number is 212-736-2533. They take Visa, MC and American Express. The address: 154 W. 29th Street, New York, NY 10001. Directed by Mike Wills.

    The Currican is a tiny off-off Broadway house at 29th and 7th with a great stage, lighting and sound. The show is a workshop production. That means we will be futzing with the script and working on the show as it rolls along. We do not plan on inviting critics or doing any huge kind of publicity--I suppose this website is publicity of sorts if anyone starts reading it, but who knows. The point is that we're not officially inviting the press. It's a just a stage in the process. This is for us to make sure that what we have really works. You folks who have followed along for so long will get a chance to watch it happen and if you like it, you'll tell others about it. Having audiences during this phase is vital.

    After the workshop, we will then make plans to bring it up to an off-Broadway house (with luck) and really advertise it to the public. Very exciting, no?

    (I would love it if one or more of you who know you want to go would buy some tickets now. Mike tells me the little Currican has never sold a ticket in January for a show in May. Please don't tell anyone that I mentioned this.)

    Life continues to be quite grand. Thanks again for all your wonderful letters. I treasure every word.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Wednesday, January 15, 1997
    Spent the Whole Day Playing the Piano.

    Spent the whole day playing the piano.

    NARRATOR: Young Steve went forth to San Francisco and left the diary closed. Something wonderful must have happened in San Francisco, though, because when he came back, he started getting a bit psychotic psychedelic.

    Monday, January 20, 1997
    Back Home to TONS of Cool News.

    I write this on Monday morning and it feels great to be home. I just spent four days in San Francisco. The main excuse I had for going was to see my pal, Billy Valentine and his band HOLY JOE play at the Paradise Lounge. They were great. He has Christa from 4 Non Blondes as his bass player and they really kicked ass. Billy let me have his bed for four days while he took the floor in the living room. Thanks, Bill.

    I came home to all kinds of great news, too. So, that perked me up. Frankly, I needed the four days off. I was starting to really stress out. Lots of play-related stress, money worries, bills coming in, etc. I needed to just get away and get disconnected. It was like being cut loose from rope. Just what I needed.

    I will be doing an update a little later on, but wanted you all to know that I am home and safe and warm. It's raining up a storm outside and it's cold, so I'll probably stay in. But the news, in short, is:

  • We have set a date for the big show at the Troubadour: Feb. 19th. I'll be performing as a part of the Fourth Annual "New Music Scene" celebration. The New Music Scene is one of the original shows in the New LA Acoustic Movement (after, of course, The Acoustic Underground, which was "my" show at NAS).
  • *i never fail to give myself credit for as much as possible*
  • The Living in the Bonus Round CD is going to get some radio play in Canada on a progressive rock station -- CJAM 91.5 FM in the Windsor/Detroit area. I love this because my music does not sound like progressive rock AT ALL, but Julian Bellanger, the DJ, said that my lyrics were wildly progressive. They're even going to play The Group, f-word and all.
  • In Dallas, a choir called Positive Voices, which is affiliated with The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas, will be recording When You Care for an upcoming album called, "Positive Voices." This is a group of HIV positive singers who are inspiring people all over Texas. I'm so proud they are considering one of my songs for this album project. I'll keep you updated. I'm sure there's more, but I want to go get in the bathtub and just have a day at home with Jim.



    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Tuesday, January 21, 1997
    Dead Man Driving.

    Remember around Christmas I told you how Jim saw a man steal a little boy's pet puppy right across street from our apartment complex? (By the way, the kid has a new puppy.) Well, this morning, Jim was again out on the tiny little balcony smoking his usual cigarette when he saw a car pulling over to the curb. It was going slowly and looked like it was going to stop, but it didn't. It ran a stanchion down and back-ended a car which then back-ended the car in front of it.

    He came running into the room where I was dutifully typing away and exclaimed, "I just saw a car run into two other cars!" So, never one to miss any excitement, I jumped up and ran to the window. There was too much glare on the driver's window to see in, but we could tell there was no movement. Curiously, we kept watching. Finally I said, "I think there's something wrong with the driver."

    Just about that time, two Latinas ran across the street and began futzing around the car and shouting up to someone in the apartment building. It began to dawn on us what had happened, so we put on our shoes and headed across the street. That's when I saw it. It was a very old man, still seated with his head leaning back, gaping maw (in a canadian-taped teevee drama sort of way) sitting very still. Just about that time, a police car pulled up and so did the emergency units. They dragged the poor old guy out of the car and pumped his chest, but to no avail.

    Dead man driving.

    That, and the endless rain we've been having, set the tone for a miserable day. Jimmy and I got into an argument with a very close and very dear friend of ours. The problem we were having was one of mangled communications and misinterpreted intentions, but it made me sick because my stress levels were careening off the chart. That's what I get for being an oh-so-sensitive artist, I suppose. We finally straightened most of it out late in the evening, but by nightfall, I was an emotional wreck. So, I went over the hill to the little coffeehouse, Highland Grounds, ordered a hot chocolate, and attended the songwriter night, Bunch O' Damn Songwriters.

    My old buddy, Ritt Henn -- RITT IS ON THE NET--I DO NOT HAVE HIS URL AT THIS TIME --, the fabulous bass player/songwriter joined me at my table where he proceeded to eat a burrito with green tabasco sauce. The waitress noted that they had a plethora of hot sauces, so she brought over the selection, one of which was called "Ass In the Tub" hot sauce. The label featured a cartoon man with his pants around his ankles sitting in a old washtub with steam coming from the water in the tub. Made in Louisiana, of course.

    I stayed for awhile and then drove home in the wet streets feeling drained and numb. I didn't quite feel like a dead man driving, but I think I shoulda downed a bottle of "Ass In The Tub" and checked my pulse.

    Got home and passed out on the couch, but Jimmy woke me up at midnight to take my meds and watch "Politically Incorrect," which doesn't seem to be funny anymore. But then, after a day like today, what could possibly make me laugh except the black humor of realizing I was going to call today's diary entry, Dead Man Driving.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Wednesday, January 22, 1997
    Live Man Working.

    I try to make it a point that, after a day like yesterday's, I should follow it up with some serious catch-up stuff, so I went down my little "to-do" list and caught up on nearly everything. Even did computer hard drive maintenance while Jimmy put on a video of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" with Marlon Brando. Good Lord, what a misconceived mess that was! The movie, not the hard drive.

    I also met with Alan Satchwell, who arranges, writes and conducts for "Heaven Bound Sound," the choir featured on my CD. (Alan also sings a verse of When You Care, and plays the trumpet on Somebody's Friend). The good news is that the choir is going to join me at the New Music Scene gig at the Troubadour on Feb 19th!

    I also invite you to look at a fan page put up by my friend, Linda George. On the page, she lifts a bunch of quotes gleaned from this diary. Now what? I'm going to have to be quotable? Good luck. (Thanks, Linda.)

    Also, I got this cool picture of Bruce Dorsey and myself -- even though I'm smiling a very geeky smile -- sent by Merck. Bruce, as you may recall, was the scientist who syntheszied Crixivan, the drug that is responsible for me being here at this particular moment in time. He and his wife, Jennie, who is also a scientist at Merck, attended the NY readings of The Last Session and promised to be at the Spring opening, too.

    NARRATOR: Steve S. no professional association with Merck, but he did let them take a picture and states that he is still up for sale to the highest bidder.

    So, all is well. The rain is still pouring down. Jimmy and I repaired the relationship (with our friend) I was freaking out about yesterday. Life goes on. Yeah, it does, doesn't it? Oh and please go check out Shawn Decker's new journal entry before he has a cat about not getting enough hits. As he puts it, time to go from homo to hemo.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Thursday, January 23, 1997
    Art's Deli.

    My brother Corky, who imagines himself to be a funny person, sent me this note in response to the two previous diary entries.
    Dear Steve, how about "Stupid Man Typing" or "Deaf Man Singing" when promoting your CD?
    Now you see why I have all these emotional problems. My family hates me for being too fabulous. Isn't jealousy and ugly thing? *LOL*

    Last night I spent time hunched over a fish and chips at Art's Deli on Ventura Blvd. with Dawn, who is going to be helping us out with press releases and stuff. Naturally, the thought of having a whole evening to do nothing but talk about myself was too delicious to even contemplate!

    Our waitress, Elizabeth, was like a mom. She coddled us and cooed us all the way through dinner. Art's is kinda famous for letting show biz people come in and spread papers all over their tables for meetings. They never give you looks about taking too much time. I remember going there this past summer when I was trying to study my lines during workshop rehearsals;

    I sat in the window and ate chili.

    Anyway, I fell immediately in love with Dawn and hopefully, she can help me with getting the word out that Lazarus has risen and wants to sing. And stuff. God help us all when Steve S. gets unleashed.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Saturday, January 25, 1997
    The Dark Knight.

    This morning, our friend, Larry Dusich, came over and Jimmy helped him write jokes for an awards show for some financial services corporation. The joke I contributed (which Jimmy refined) was that "Big sales were as hard to find as senior citizens at a Charles Keating Rally." Pretty funny, huh? Dennis Miller? Don't ya think you should give me a call?

    Yesterday Ronda remembered that I never scanned a photo Tracey had brought me from the show I did in Virginia at Old Dominion University. It's definitely my Dark Prince look. Jim said I looked like Norma Desmond from Sunset Blvd. "It's the pianos that have gotten smaller!" I think I look like a young compser on fire. But the suit thing is too much.

    By the way, there's a new 18 yr. old hemo/str8 boy/positoid on the net named Luke Chipperfield with a website called Rebel Without A Cure. His friends call him Chippa. It's so Aussie.

    Oh, and please remember to check in with Shawn Decker's Positoid Diary. I can't ridicule him if you're not keeping up. He's flying down to Brazil to meet with a girl he has fallen in love with over the internet. This is so OPRAH. But when your 21 and you are totally and like, radically in love, continents should not keep you apart.

    Of course, he doesn't speak a word of Portuguese. I can't wait to hear the stories of him sitting around with her family trying to communicate. But he's a star. He'll wow 'em.

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Sunday, January 26, 1997
    Sunday Sermon: One Heart At A Time.

    First of all, I got a note from Luke Chipperfield, who is obviously a very ungrateful young man, just like his badboy mentor, Shawn Decker. Just because I said he was 16 instead of 18, and just because I got his home page address wrong. *sheesh* These young people today have no respect for their mind-imparied elders! (I've gone back and fixed the links.)


    Hello Steve! :) I'm not sure if you still remember me, but you and I met on an IRC chat back about 2 months ago. You told me to write to you, and I didn't forget! :) Let me refresh your memory a bit... I'm the girl who talked to you and I used to be a Baptist and was having a hard time trying to figure out what I believe nowadays. Needless to say, my struggle is not over. I think I will spend my whole life searching and changing, as everyone does.

    Well, I went back to your page again today. I love reading your page. I remember you sent me to read the musical you wrote about the guy who was religous and condemned others who did not believe as he did. I don't know if I told you this, but reading your page is also a help to me. See, I'm a former homophobic. Now, that was probably not hard to gather considering my religious background! :) Homophobia is something I have recently come out of. I think it started back 2 years ago with a VERY open minded friend who almost ripped my head off when I made a cringing face when he mentioned a bisexual woman. He had experience with friends who were homo and bisexual, and was rather tough on me. I think it was after that conversation with him that I started to reexamine the way I treated people.

    I mean, I was never mean to people of different sexual orientation--I just thought I should not be associated with them. When I found out that a friend of mine was bisexual, I totally froze up around him and had a hard time talking to him. At the time of my high school graduation, I decided to prove something to myself by racing up to him and giving him the biggest, warmest hug of my life, and also quite impressed my open minded friend. It's been hard for me to get away from the idea that was instilled in me that homosexuals are corrupt terrible people.

    I sometimes cannot believe how far I've come. I have a friend that came to me a year ago confused over his sexuality. I assured him I'd be his friend always, but in my mind, it was a hard thing for me to struggle with. I told him I could not condone it, but I would not hate him. Somehow, he kept trusting me, and I think my mind opened and I became more sensitive to it, and these days I find myself trying to help him through things, as he has discovered he is bisexual, and I no longer have a problem with it. However, he does have a lot of problems struggling with this newfound sexuality, and I've tried to convince him to talk to someone who'd know something more about it than me, cuz I've never been in the situation. Umm...I did tell him not to hit on my boyfriend though, and he laughed! :) Hey! Ya gotta draw the line somewhere, ya know what I mean?! ;) hehehehhe!!!!

    Well, I've been reading your page and went to some of the links that you have, and it's really helped me even more. I mean, I don't know... I guess someone raised with the beliefs I had has a problem that they don't see people who are different than them as real people with feelings. You have NO idea how many people I want to read your page. It's amazing. I went and read the Bill's Story and almost cried. I realized that I could have been one of the people condemning such a nice person. Isn't that a terrible thought? I mean, not literally cuz I wasn't in that area, but you know what I mean. I hope you aren't thinking I'm a terrible person now. I mean, we all make mistakes, and I'm learning from mine.

    Okay, well, I have to go now! I'm gonna go work on getting myself into hell by being a lawyer that social drinks, dances to secular music and talks to Muslims. See Ya! :) eehhehe!!!

    Oh, right. I said this was the Sunday Sermon. Well, that was it. Real person. Real Story. Hate in the name of Love chases off all the good people..

    I talked to Chip Esten, who starred in the workshop and NY readings of THE LAST SESSION. He's probably not going to be able to do our New York workshop because he got a job acting in Kevin Costner's new movie which begins shooting about then. Also, he has been asked to star in the new Elton John musical of AIDA being produced by Disney for Broadway. Now, check this out. Next year, at least two stars of major Broadway shows, Chip and Brian Stokes Mitchell who is getting rave reviews for RAGTIME, were the original choices we made for Buddy and Gideon in our show. And we made these choices before they began becoming stars. As Chip says, we have gift for casting and I believe it.

    So, now the very plum antagonist role of Buddy and the starring role of Gideon are up for grabs. Okay, New Yorkers, get your audition hats on. Let the games begin. Gideon has to be like me so you have to have an extremely masculine, perfect representation of manhood. But then only I would truly qualify for that role. So we'll settle for some slightly geeky piano player who thinks he knows it all.

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    Monday, January 27, 1997
    Bootlegs already? Steve's Story Part 1.

    I hear there's a bootleg video of my concert at Old Dominion University floating around. Fans passing videos of me around? (I love it.)

    Being a completely crass commercially minded human being, last year when I began to realize (or desperately hope) that this music would be more than just a collection of songs, I started planting some seeds -- souvenirs, so to speak, so that I could make all my fans rich with collectors' items.

    The first time I sang anything from this show was for a group called LAWIM (Los Angeles Women In Music). I sang Connected and I distributed 50 cassettes of it. This rare recording was done before, I think, any of the other songs were even written. I purposely signed and numbered the cassettes and left them at the door telling everyone in attendance to hang onto them because they would be collector's items one day.

    At my next gig at Genghis Cohen in Hollywood, I did the same but included more songs. I think this time I made 75 (I think) tapes. Later on, when we did our show at the Hollywood Roosevelt, I made 100 tapes of even more songs from the show, also signed and numbered. I don't have a single copy of any of these tapes left for myself. I gave them all away.

    Q: Steve story request of the week... Kerry Russ asks: How did you take up piano? When did you start writing your own music?

    My mother played a little and sang in the church and she was the one who asked me, at the age of seven, if I wanted to learn piano. There was a girl in our church (14 yrs. old) who wanted to start giving lessons. I had a bit of a schoolboy crush on her, so I agreed. Within a couple of weeks I realized that the one thing in this world I detested was practice and for three years I begged, pleaded and cajoled my mother to let me quit, but she insisted I stick with it. (thanks, mom).

    By the age of 10, I was playing for my dad's church in Santa Ana, California, where the church had ten members -- one Latino family and two old folks. The church grew (as did my playing ability) and by the time I was in my middle teens, I had 1) Seen Paul McCartney playing piano, so now I thought it was totally cool to do so, and 2) fallen in love with Creedence Clearwater, so I tried to rock the congregation and make them sound like Creedence. My mom would yell at me that the church was not a rock group.

    My songwriting began when an old friend of dad's, an evangelist from West Texas, gave me an old poem he had written called, "The Last Invitation." I wrote music to it while still in High School, I think. Maybe college. But my real education in songwriting began with Elton John. I would buy an Elton John album (complete with lyrics) and put it up on my piano. Then I would try to write all my own music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics BEFORE I listened to the record! (Elton was always better...).

    My first real song, music and lyrics, was written when I was 19. It was a naive song that just popped forth called, "I Want To Make Music." It's intriguing to me to go back to that song because, in my first song, I was already contemplating my own death:

    "...and when I'm finally dying
    and I take my final rest
    the music'll keep on playing
    'cause even in my death
    I want to make music."

    I look back at that and compare that wish to Save Me A Seat and realize that, even from the earliest times, I've sought a type of immortality through my life and songs. Kinda brings a tear to yer eye, huh? I played this "I Want To Make Musice" in Utah once in front of some college kids and George David Weiss, the President of the Songwriters Guild (and writer of songs like "I Can't Help Falling In Love Again," and "It's A Wonderful World." He said, "I've never seen anyone work 'death' into a song and make it work." He was probably just being kind but at the time I was just a desk jockey at NAS. He bit my head off. He told me I should be writing, that it was my calling. But the Songwriters Guild and the National Academy of Songwriters were kind of rivalrous at that time and I also thought maybe he's just trying to get rid of me! LOL

    Back then, as a songwriter, I frankly just didn't have anything to say. I find it a bit unsatisfying to write unless I have something -- or at least know that I have to say. I guess it's a reaction to all the empty words and meaningless tripe we are deluged with on a daily basis. At the very least, the song I'm doing now actually say something but at heart, like Matthew Lee said, it's essentially romantic.

    And, at the risk of boring you, in songwriting, I like finding a sense of irony and deception. It's just more fun. And surprises. The happy songs have heavier themes than one can grasp upon first listening. The perfect example is Friendly Fire, where people are forced to laugh at the horror and are horrified at themselves for laughing. But isn't life a little like that?

    To Steve's Story Part 2

    I met, yesterday, with Joel Wachbrit, the guitarist who appeared on the song, Somebody's Friend, which is on the new CD. I only knew Joel from that one session when Lynn Keller brought him in. Anyway, I called Joel to give him a couple of the CDs and found out he was married to one of my fave singer/songwriters in L.A., Jill Freeman. She's fantastic. Hi, Joel! Jill, start singing again!

    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Tuesday, January 28, 1997
    Story of Steve Part 2.

    Q. Kerry asks, in response to the answer from yesterday's question, yeah, but how did you get from wherever you were to wherever you are??

    Okay. After high school, I was encouraged to go to Jacksonville Baptist College in Jacksonville, Texas for Career Day. While there, the professor said something about trying out for scholarships. After asking the person sitting next to me what a "Scholarship" was, I went to try out. So, I met "Bro. Orr," the Music Department Chair -- actually, he was the whole Music Department -- and sat down at the piano and dazzled him with my brilliance. I left the room with a full tuition scholarship. I was the golden boy for him because his job was to try to pump some music directors into the Baptist Missionary Association, an association of Baptists two levels more conservative than the Southern Baptists, who were considered liberal and probably Commie.

    Well, I was a good boy except for practicing NEVER, but by the time we got into the school year I was in every music group and doing much of the arranging for the professor. I was the fair haired boy! In my second year, on the local cable access channel, they were holding telethon for a lady who needed a kidney machine, so I volunteered to go on and, of course, I sang the very appropriate "Happiness Is A Warm Gun." This impressed three good-looking male Gospel singers in double knit vests who promptly invited me to join their band called "Spirit and Understanding."

    My Prof was against this from the get-go but I did it anyway. After I graduated the two year college, I was sent to a big church in Dallas. There, I failed miserably because I had no idea how to handle that much responsibility and there was no one there willing to teach me. Frankly, it scared this little 19 year old to death and to make matters worse, the preacher had an ego the size of a Mack truck and we ended up fighting. So, I went back to Jacksonville and re-joined the band, now named The Damascus Road.

    We made three terrible -- but loved by those who loved them, I don't want to be disrespectful -- albums and that's where I really started writing songs. Curiously, almost every song was about freedom. Even our last album was named "A Glimpse of Freedom." There were only a couple of decent songs on that record. One was called, "First Church of the Social Club" which derided hypocritical church goers and I forget the other. Also, just before this, I tried to write a musical and sent it off to the Nazarene publishers. They didn't like the musical but they liked three songs, one of which still gets published in little praise collections. It's called, "I Will Trust The Lord."

    After several years, though, my "gayness" was pounding at me like a drunken father locked out of house at night and it became too much to endure. Ten years I begged Jesus to change me, and ten years I ignored who I really was, until finally I just told the whole world to get lost.

    But the whole world stayed around, so it was I who got lost. I moved to Dallas where I moved in with a houseful of Iranian students. Funny story here: This was at the time with the Ayatollah Khomeini was in exile. My friends were great guys who acted like any other horny, drunken college students except when "the religious ones" came around. If one of the "religious ones" knocked on the door, they would all run for cover, under the beds, into the closets, etc. and leave me to open the door.

    At the door, the "religious ones" would raise an eyebrow in contempt at me and look around to see if anyone was home. Seeing no one, they would sneer at me, say something in Iranian and then leave. Slowly, scared shitless, the guys would come from their hiding places and thank me for keeping the holy ones out. After the revolution, I realized that these were Khomeini-ites and it also made me wonder how many more "normal" folks were terrorized by these people. It also made me think of the Middle Ages.

    One more digression: on the cruise we took this past summer, there was an American lady married to an Iranian and traveling with her mother. She said that though Iranian woman dress in those black "chadors" in public, in private they are the best dressed, most accessorized women in the world up on the very latest of fashions and make-up. Isn't that interesting?

    To Steve's Story, Part 3

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    Wednesday, January 29, 1997
    Story of Steve Part 3: The Dallas Years.

    My brother, David, who I have not talked about much, sent me a note reminding me that it was he who came up with the song title, "A Glimpse of Freedom." He probably could have also reminded me that it contains one of the most embarrassing lyrics I ever wrote, but he didn't.

    Also, I should mention that my family moved to Buna, Texas when I was in high school, so I instantly became a Texan at that age. It's impossible to live in Texas and not become a Texan. I often wonder, if I had stayed in southern Califonia at that time in history, would I now be one of the Eagles?

    Story of Steve Part 3: Stevie Does Dallas

    So, there I was in Denton, Texas, living with some Iranian students (who had been friends of mine in Jacksonville) waiting tables at an International House of Pancakes. But what I dreamed of was finding a way to get permanently 30 miles away, down in Dallas. The big day came when a new friend of mine, who owned a bookstore told me of a theatre in Dallas that needed a tenor. Hey! I was a tenor. I knew how to read music. I decided to go try. He said to bring a picture, a resume and some sheet music. I didn't have the pic or resume and the only song I knew that wasn't a Gospel song was a Stevie Wonder ballad, but I went there and stood in the crook of the piano and barely made a sound.

    I could see the disappointment in their eyes. Apparently, the tenor in residence was throwing a hissy fit and was going on vacation in a week whether they found a replacement or not. The Grand Crystal Palace was a theatre, but it was also a restaurant and the actors waited on tables before and between acts.

    Suddenly, out of nowhere, because it was in the music, I blasted this "A" full voice and the three old guys sitting there listening to me -- well, their heads snapped! They looked at each other. Then the oldest one said, "He can do it. Put him in." Then, Bobby, the tenor who was going on vacation offered to teach me the whole show in a week.

    Okay. Now consider this for a moment. In my entire Baptist life, I had never so much as swayed back and forth to music, much less danced. I had never seen a stage musical. In fact, until we began rehearsing -- and I'm not kidding -- I thought "Broadway" meant "old movies." I was absolutely not aware of live theatre at all. I mean, I would read Time Magazine and see pictures of live theatre but it was like seeing sanskrit. Like describing green to a blind man.

    Well, rehearsals were hilarious. I flopped and fell and tripped and felt like a perfect idiot, so they kept me out of the dance numbers and only put me in when I had to sing. I still had to "move" in these numbers, but Bobby got his vacation and I got a job. Once I sorta got the hang of it, it got to be fun. I even wrote some songs that got used in the shows. The first was actually two songs sung contrapuntally. The name of the song(s)? "Freedom/Captured." Here's a snippet from a talk-song cut from THE LAST SESSION called The Faces in the Music:

    "There was Jerry, the guy in drag upstairs
    Always putting his make-up on
    And Tom the tall black opera queen
    And the cute young guy who wore the wig
    That didn't look like a wig
    Who loved beauty pageants

    One night Ross Perot came in
    And ordered an expensive wine
    But the wine Ross wanted was totally out
    And the actor doing the wine stressed out
    But Ross was nice and left a tip..."

    So, during those years, I fell in love with an alcoholic who passed out in the lobby one night as the patrons were leaving. (They had to step over him.) He was a Braniff flight attendant who introduced me to Vicki Eydie (as we called her). Vicki and I got married for all the wrong reasons -- can you say "Let's all fly to New York for lunch? Oh, Steve can't. He's not a flight attendant like we are. I know! Steve, why don't you and Vicki get married??"

    We actually lived together for a month, and we stayed married for six years, but the marriage wrecked our friendship. I also fell in love with a nervous dancer and had an ex-Marine roommate who tried to set himself on fire while on quaaludes. (I came home unexpectedly and found him buried in torn pieces of paper trying to light a match. But he was so loaded up from the ludes that he couldn't strike the match fast enough to get it to light.)

    To the rescue came a clean cut Donnie and Marie-type act. They were a young engaged couple from East Texas with a manager, and their highest goal in life was to be a lounge act in Vegas. They hired me to be their musical director. There were also three other musicians: Two teenagers just out of high school on bass and drums, and a guitarist friend of mine whose highest goal in life was to stay high and have sex with girls, which scandalized "Donnie and Marie" because they were good Baptists, a thing I no longer was. They were also very sheltered, so when they realized their band was a mix of all kinds of sexual perversities, it kind of kept them a bit unsettled.

    We lost the guitar play and bass player, who intelligently went back to school, and we got a couple of musicians from Minneapolis. For three years, we played every Rodeway Inn, Ramada Inn and Motel 6 in these United States and almost made it to Vegas. Our highest pinnacle was the lounge in the MGM Grand in Reno. Did it twice. Met the Jefferson Starship in Lake Tahoe once.

    The night John Lennon was shot, we were playing in Columbus, Ohio at a Rodeway Inn and there was a lot of snow on the ground. I went on break, heard about the news, and, to an almost empty room, came back and sang, "Imagine," all the way through without a single mistake. I had never played the song before in my life.
    In various cities, with the new guitarist and bassist recruited in Minneapolis along with the teenager, Chris from Dallas who stuck it out with us, the band and I would get midnight recording sessions and make our own demos of songs I would write. There were two collections and one is lost. We called ourselves, on the first tape, CHEVY CITY -- that's the one that's lost. And on the second tape, we became YOUNG BOYZ. Finally, after about three years, the band broke up, "Donnie and Marie" broke up -- turns out he was gay all this time; I couldn't tell; I thought he was too prissy to be gay. hehehe.

    ... and I didn't have a car, so I moved to New York where you don't need a car and I flopped down on my friend, Diane's couch for a year of Columbus Ave., New York City, USA.

    To Steve's Story Part 4

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    Thursday, January 30, 1997

    (meanwhile back in L.A.....)

    A friend, songwriter Bill Grisolia called me today and said he had auditioned for the L.A. production of "Rent." At the audition he met a young (26 yr. old boy) who had just tested positive for HIV and who was very depressed and unaware of the ins and outs of the disease and medications, and Bill called me to say that he thought this boy might need to hear my songs.

    So, I invited him over. It wasn't just about AIDS, though. He was seriously suicidal because he had been a speed freak and had been molested nearly all of his life by family and others and pretty much hated himself. So, he tested for HIV in December, the new person he was dating ditched him because of the test result on Christmas Eve, and he was losing his job and his apartment.

    We managed to have a long and excellent conversation. Frankly, I thought he was holding up magnificently. After he left, I came over to the computer and found this is my email box:

    From: "Judy W."
    To: "Steve S."
    Subject: Wow!!
    Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 22:03:31 -0800

    My dear friend,
    Your CD has been playing steadily for the last 6 hours. I'm so blessed to have this! You have touched some very sensitive places within my heart. I laughed...cried...and grieved....such messages!!

    I can't even begin to tell you all that went on in my heart and mind while listening intently for the first couple of hours. The one thing that really has spoken to me...where I am right now...is how precious life is. You see....I have been fighting with suicidal thoughts...and actions... for several months now. Only this morning...I started to scratch up my wrists with a dull razor blade...thinking...I've got to get a new blade. Then I listen to your CD...and realize that I am playing with something so precious....life. You would grasp every moment I am so willing to give up. I feel so ashamed.

    Just fyi only....I am what they call a survivor of incest...the worst kind...from the age of three....through my teens. Every kind of sexual act was performed on me and by me. My father loved me..you see. Currently I am going through some very intense and painful counseling and so much is pouring into my memory that I am feeling so overwhelmed by the ugliness of it all. I have been playing around the edges of death/suicide because I need an out. I am born again.... God loves me... but....sometimes....I feel so very alone in all of this. Just know that your CD has made me take a longer look at the value of life....any kind of life. Thanks....

    I'm afraid that this CD is going to melt on my player if I don't turn it off pretty soon. You have a beautiful voice...and a very sensitive and heartfelt message. I can't seem to get enough. Got any more? :o))

    Pray for me, Steve, as I pray for you. Please.

    I love you!!

    Judy W.

    CONGRATS to my friend, Wes, whose Cool Site! got a fantastic write-up in yesterday's USA Today. In case you haven't been there, it features a massive letter-writing battle between members of his fundie family over the flap that one crazy old aunt caused when Wes wanted to bring his other half, Tom, to a family reunion. The best (or saddest) remark came from a cousin who feared spreading "fecal matter" to the kids if they both showed up. Fundies are so SEX-crazed!!

    Make a new friend with Carter Burnette, who is a Positoid songwriter in Philadelphia with a hot web page.
    To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

    Friday, January 31, 1997
    Steve's Story Part 4: A Pre-NY Interlude.

    Toward the end of the "Donnie & Marie" story (not the real Donnie & Marie, of course), jobs got further and further apart. They were both very good looking people -- she was a Miss Texas runner-up with dark brown eyes and long, long legs -- but neither of them could sing that well, and once one does a casino lounge, one discovers it isn't the life of glamor one might have imagined.

    Just before I went to NY (and before our last gig in Lake Tahoe), I found a four week gig in Sacramento playing for two coked-out girls. They were from L.A., so after the gig, I stayed with a friend of theirs and answered an ad looking for a lead singer.

    They were called The Unknowns and the lead guitarist picked me, I think, because I was driving "Donnie's" Ranchero -- Donnie and Marie had gone back to Texas for the haitus -- and the band needed a truck for hauling equipment. I quickly moved into their hippie-like band house and slept on the tattered couch wrapped in a sheet.

    I don't remember the guitarist's name, so let's call him "Rage." Rage was very intense. The band was a neo-rockabilly/Talking Heads mix. The previous singer was this weird guy who had to stand with a cane, but who had a very cool voice -- which I think was the best thing about the band. Well, Rage and he had a split so Rage "hired" me.

    There's a mental image I have from the first few days there that I will never forget. I'm lying on the floor amidst pillows, and the two other band members are there on the couch. Hovering above me, Rage had his guitar in his hand and he was lecturing me on music. He had some very specific rules about the band and about how I was expected to look and to sing and most of it revolved around surf guitar.

    You see, he thought that anyone who would "bend" a guitar string (as blues players do) was misusing the guitar. The longer I got to know him, the more I realized that he was an out-and-out racist. He laid the blame of string bending at the feet of old black folks who didn't know how to tune their guitars. He insisted that they only began doing it to get their songs in tune. Then, he'd kinda go off about how blacks had destroyed music and that white music was really the only true music or something. (Most of the racial stuff he didn't articulate for me until much later in our working relationship).

    But right then, at that first lecture, he told me he hated my hair and my clothes. (Admittedly, I was coming from a lounge gig, so I wasn't exactly cutting edge El Lay). And that he would help me get my "look" together. Also, on a musical level, the only music that was allowed to be played in the apartment EVER was surf guitar (including the The Theme from Bonanza, which, until then I hadn't realized was played with surf guitar) and Roy Orbison. I was to learn to sing like Roy Orbison, of course. He railed at me that I sounded like Billy Joel and that he would have to wipe that from my consciousness with our all-day all-night Roy-fest. Even when we were watching TV, he would immediately mute the sound if any music came on, particularly "The Theme From Cheers."

    (So I guess there were SOME forms of white music he didn't like so much.)

    Now, I have to tell you that, until all the racial bullshit started, I found all of this fabulously entertaining. There's nothing I love to watch more than a person who already knows everything. And these types usually like me at first because I am such a willing audience. Well, I stayed with The Unknowns for two weeks. We never had a single practice and he never taught me a single song. The only thing we did was attend a Rockabilly/punk thing at Club Lingerie where I sat next to one of the Blasters (I think) backstage and had an ultimate El Lay moment:

    If you've ever seen the B. Streisand/K. Kristofferson "A Star Is Born," you might remember a scene where Kris has agreed to have sex with this girl in exchange for an interview. After they screw, the girl grabs her little tape recorder, switches it on, points it at him and says, "Okay. Go," (waiting for him to talk).

    I'm sitting backstage at Club Lingerie wearing a 50s looking plaid shirt that Rage had scrounged up for me when suddenly this girl with multi-colored hair and nose ring is introduced as being from some magazine. She unceremoniously shoves a tape recorder into the Blaster-dude's face and says, "Who do you like?" Silence. And my mind just froze on that moment and screen-captured it forever.

    He looked at her with a sigh of resignation and tried to just get through the interview. Inside I was wondering what the hell I was doing dressed up like a young Elvis pretending to be some kind of punk rocker. By the second week at Rage's house, my childhood asthma had returned in full force and, at the last minute, "Donnie" called to say we had one last gig: Lake Tahoe.

    Lake Tahoe was beautiful. It was late in the winter season so the roads were not so treacherous. In fact, one day it snowed while the sun was out and the picture of the white leafy showflakes falling from and between the tall pine trees was breathtaking.

    The only thing that marred this otherwise perfect lounge gig was that our regular guitarist, Bobby, had long ditched the band by then, so we hired a jazz guy from the local musicians union who was fine until payday. At that point he must have scored some kind of illicit substance because we found him running around in the snow naked in the middle of the night warning us about CIA agents. (or I was having some kind of hallucination.)

    Well, that was pretty much it for "Donnie and Marie." They gave me a microphone (which, to this day, still has traces of "Marie's" red lipstick and a little bit of money, so I bought a drum machine and a one way plane ticket to New York City. By the time I arrived at Diane's apartment on Columbus Avenue, I had $50 left in my pocket and absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life. All I knew was that I was in New York and I didn't need a car.

    To Chapter 5: Steve Sings Cabaret in New York.

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